Colombo, April 29 (newsin.asia): United National Party (UNP) leader and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has accused critics within his party of having worked to defeat it in the February 10 local bodies elections.
The elections saw the UNP trailing far behind the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“There are people who have criticised our re-organization, and there are those who have made light of this process. But none of them worked towards bringing our party to victory during the last local election. In fact some of them actively worked against us. Some of them had the hidden objective of destroying the Party,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement on the reforms carried out so far and the reforms he intends to carry out as a follow up.
“However, we should not worry about their agenda. What we must instead focus on is taking the necessary action to strengthen the party with increased commitment,” he added.
Wickremesinghe’s critics, in whose ranks there are about 25 MPs ,have said that the reforms are an eyewash or “old wine in a new bottle” as one of them put it.
One of them, Ranjan Ramanayake, even said that Wickremesinghe should go because for everything there is an expiry date, and Wickremesinghe has passed that date.
There is particular resentment against the appointment of former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake as Assistant Secretary when he had been forced to resign from the cabinet for his alleged role in the Central Bank Bonds Scam. In fact, senior party leader Joseph Michael Perera had resigned from the Working Committee in protest against the appointment of Karunanayake.
Opportunities for Younger Leaders
On reforms to bring younger people to man important positions in the party, Wickremesinghe said: “The new energy and approach that they bring will undoubtedly pave a strong way forward, together with the Deputy Leader and the Assistant Leader. With their commitment and untiring efforts, there can be no doubt that the Party will progress.”
“We intend to allocate new responsibilities to the Deputy Leader in order to further strengthen our journey to victory so as to drive the process of organizing the party towards the success.”
“We also intend to create new posts by appointing a Secretary and Assistant Secretary to further strengthen and organize the party. We hope to give more opportunities to young Members of Parliament to help drive forward the Party’s mission.”
Responsibilities for Each MP
Wickremesinghe said that the party is aiming to give specific responsibilities to each of the Members of Parliament and with this in mind it is developing an initial procedure.
As regards looking after the party’s supporters, the Leader said: “Our supporters, who have faithfully backed the United National Party, even through the most difficult of times, must be given high priority. There remain a number of unresolved issues with our supporters that must be addressed.”
“The United National Party is a party that listens its supporters and the people. We are a party that considers people’s opinions, attitudes and responses.”
Lessons Learnt From Poll Debacle
Wickremesinghe said that the UNP has learnt lessons from the debacle in the local bodies elections.
“We have accurately read and identified the message given to us by the people in the last Local Government elections and we are acting to implement the necessary changes,” he said.
“In order to achieve this we have made use of several Committee reports. The reports were reviewed by a committee that was elected by Members of Parliament, and following discussions, recommendations were presented at the working committee meeting held recently.”
“By reorganizing the Party at the wish of the people we have demonstrated that United National Party is the only political party that is flexible and people focused,” Wickremesinghe said.
Wickremesinghe claimed that “discussion and convention have always been the means of resolving our problems.”
“Where possible, we always work to come to a common agreement on any issue, whether this involves the working committee or our Members of Parliament.”
“It is the proud tradition of the United National Party to respect all views, even controversial views, until a final common decision has been made. It is the duty of the true supporter to understand these traditions and to preserve them.”
Further Changes Due
The process of reform and reorganization does not end with the current changes, Wcikremesinghe said.
“We have taken a policy decision to implement the suggestions mentioned in Ruwan Wijewardhane Committee report. We will take action to bring relevant constitutional amendments as well.”
“Accordingly, we have planned to elevate more new faces to the level of the leadership and to bring in young blood to strengthen the party further. The group of Members of Parliament, the working committee together with the newly appointed officers will implement the above plans with the utmost commitment and effort,” Wickremesinghe assured.
(The featured image at the top is that of Ranil Wickremesinghe, United National Party leader and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)